Searching for Salmon Broodstock

What does caring for a salmon look like in Northern BC?

By Cindy Verbeek

At its most basic level, it is taking care of fish. In the case of A Rocha’s Northern BC project, this means searching for broodstock (adult salmon), taking eggs, caring for them and raising them at the Buck Creek Nature Centre and Hatchery, until they can be released back into the river as fry.

With 7 years of work in the Upper Bulkley River under our belt, we’re starting to get better at reading the water, understanding salmon behaviour and using that to our advantage. One interesting thing that was noticed was that when spooked, coho salmon go upstream. Using this knowledge and our experience with known coho haunts (and of course a whole lot of prayer and sovereigndipity), this year (Fall 2021) we were able to catch our broodstock quickly and efficiently. Even though it took 3 weeks for the fish that we caught to ripen, our holding tanks in the river worked great and we now have 5,000 eggs tucked away in our hatchery.

It is a real privilege to be able to do this work, and you never know what you will find. The highlight this year was finding sockeye spawners actively building redds (nests) just above incomplete beaver dams. While there used to be a sockeye fishery in this river, they have not been seen regularly for decades and are the topic of conversation by the Office of Wet’suwet’en whose traditional territory encompasses this watershed. We were able to submit our reports and locations of this activity and chat with one of the biologists the following day who went up in a helicopter to investigate.

Taking time out on the river is really the only way to understand this ecosystem. Since the river has been closed to fishing for almost 30 years, there are very few who actually spend significant time on many parts of it. This year we were blessed to have two A Rocha staff, help from DFO staff as well as several faithful volunteers come out on the river. One of our volunteers even came from Prince George (300+ kms away) to help for the day! All in all it was another successful year in Houston. We look forward to being able to peek at them on December 16th and bring some of the eyed eggs out into the Nature Centre for viewing!

Stay tuned for updates on our Facebook Group.

Watch the Egg Check Video

Join us as we check the eggs!

Want to peek at the eggs with us? Watch our recording of the Facebook Live egg check from December 16.

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Watch the Egg Check Video